This is my last week being in Berlin and the feelings are already setting in. There are so many things about living in this city that I love and am going to miss when going back to the US. For one the amount of stuff I can do on any given day is just amazing. I can eat any kind of food or experience cultural events or museums. I will also really miss the ease of travel, especially public transportation. I can be anywhere in the city in less than 40 minutes, which is very impressive considering how sprawling the city is. I have to keep my spirits up this week and try to take advantage of the time I have left.
Last Tuesday after work I went to the Topography of Terror Museum, which is about the history of the Nazis and their secret police in particular. It’s a very informative museum and the location of the building is the same place where the actual secret police headquarters was. It’s the only museum in Berlin that specifically focuses on the history of the Nazis. After that I walked to the Brandenburg Gate. I’ve been to the gate really briefly before, but I wanted to go and enjoy it another time. I then walked to the Reichstag, which I hadn’t yet seen up close. Later that evening my friends and I went to a pub to watch the Women’s World Cup semi finals against England, and it was just a fantastic game.
Wednesday it was a pretty relaxed day. After work my roommate and I went out for Pho and then that evening we went to this really nice rooftop bar that’s only a few minutes away from our hotel. It offers a really great view of the city and specifically the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, which is a church that was almost completely destroyed in World War 2 and now is the ruins where they have an exhibit displaying the history of the church.
Thursday my roommate and I celebrated the 4th of July by eating at a hot dog restaurant. We then walked through the Tiergarten almost all the way home. We went to see the Victory Column in the middle of the Tiergarten again and then took a bus home. It was a really beautiful day out and perfect weather to almost walk all the way home from work. One of the great things about Berlin is the size of the Tiergarten and how much it has to offer in terms of sights and activities.
On Friday it was a pretty busy day for me at work and then after work I hung out with my boss and coworkers on the rooftop terrace of our building for a little bit. After that I went home and my roommate and I went to get Gyros for dinner and then later that night we went out for drinks and hung out with our other friends on the program.
Saturday I went to the German History Museum which tells the history of Germany starting in 500 AD. It was a huge and super detailed museum. I think that it is one the best museums I’ve been to. The level of detail is just amazing and I learned a lot going through the museum. After that we went to a beer garden, but it started raining while we were there. We managed to get home dry and it was a really fun day.
Yesterday we went to this giant Flea Market called Mauerpark where there’s lots of food stands and different artisan shops. It’s one of my favorite place to go in Berlin and it’s only open on Sundays so I try to go every opportunity I get. After that we went to the city of Potsdam to walk around and get dinner. Potsdam is only 30 minutes away from our flat and it’s a very cute small city. It looks very European and it feels more like a German city than Berlin does sometime. There are some parts of Potsdam that are so beautiful that they almost look fake. It was very nice out though and it was great to see the city again.
Because my company is so small and the goal of our company is so specific that I don’t believe that how my company and industry identifies success is exactly the same as other German companies and industries. My company focuses very much on the relationships we form and it is important to keep up these happy and healthy relationships. While efficiency is an inherently German quality to have, and it is something that my company values, it is not the most important thing as it would be in other companies or industries. My company and coworkers also value collaboration very much since it’s a small team. We work together on many projects towards a goal.
Overall in Germany efficiency, honesty, and timeliness are all important ways that a person judges success. Things like wealth and how much you work are not as important. Germans believe in a healthy work-life balance and therefore do not think that putting in overtime hours is a good thing. Generally the belief is if you can’t get your work done during the time you’re at work, then you’re not doing a good job. In the US we put a lot of pressure on essentially maxing out the amount of time you can work, especially when you first start out in the field of business. Personally, I think that this is unhealthy and leads to a lot of people getting burnt out. In Europe this is not as prevalent and I think that there is a good reason for that. Germans are not generally obsessed with wealth like many Americans are. Many people live in small flats or houses and not many people own huge mansions with a lot of land. I personally like this more modest outlook. Obviously that’s not how everyone is, but to be successful in Germany wealth and overworking is not what success is.
It has been another great week in Berlin. Until next time!